Thursday, June 24, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Fuel-Propelled Flying Machine

(Judy and I on our last night in town, eating at our favorite pizza place, Key Largo.)

I'm packed. (Believe it.)

I'm up at 6 am. (what?!)

I checked my flight (on time it says!!).

I am editing my draft of my deliverable (ok... i am currently blogging, but RIGHT AFTER i post, THEN I am editing).

What in the what? I never get up at 6 to edit. I guess the Clinton School has made me a bit more prepared about life. Even the "no problem" attitude of the Caribbean couldn't erase that first year training.

I will be posting next week I imagine, as I am still writing and reflecting about my project. But as I prepare to see my family today (so excited!) and to say goodbye to Judy and Alleyne (not so happy about this part), I wanted to leave you with the look of my last few days.

Judy posted that her computer was "fired." But then, this wonderful St. Lucian who works for Dell came to our house! Have you ever seen a laptop being fixed? It's like computer surgery: he took everything apart to put it back together again. And of course... we made a video. Enjoy:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


In 48 hours I will be home. Well... home in Texas. So, not HOME in Arkansas, yet! I am uber excited.

I apologize, I haven't posted for a week! For shame, for shame! Judy "Writes More than Steven King" Watts and I went to the cocoa plantation, she wrote about that. And we went to the recycling place and the landfill... but she wrote about THAT. Dang, Judy got to all the good stuff first!! :)

I will bring just share with you a few highlights from my week:

Alleyne has been promising to take us on a tour of the island, and last week. He. Did. It was amazing. As we traveled around the island, I tried to calm my stomach (cause I get a bit carsick), I thought, wow. I have been here for 2 months and This island is gorgeous. We went to some spots we had been before (Dennery), but then we also went to Soufriere and stopped in Anse La Raye for their Friday Night FishFry. The people were lovely and inviting. I couldn't stop thinking that the island brought us here (LOST, anyone, anyone?) and the reason Judy and I were here, helping Alleyne with the radio drama and the action campaigns, is for everyone. It is to benefit the whole. All of the running around, trying to find the school resources that would best help the youth of St. Lucia and throughout the Eastern Caribbean - THIS is what it is all about.

It is as if we are writing the story (or a part of the story) of their future. Media Impact has entrusted Alleyne, and Judy and I are to be the authors of this part of the story. And as we visited Each part of the island, each climate change-themed chapter came more into focus. The people at the fishfry (read: food security, clean, safe oceans). The market at Soufriere (read: less litter, increased tourism). The village of Dennery (read: the vanishing habitat of the endangered white-breasted thrasher). Maria Islands (read: reserved land, not inhabitated, and therefore, home to snakes found no where else in the world).

I have lived here for over 2 months, and I was thinking: This is why people never leave. Each village and town has a personality and each an environmental structure worth preserving and protecting.

I took this while Alleyne drove us home. It is one of my favorites.

Anse La Raye. Gorgeous fishing village. (Storm rolling in.)
Caribbean Sea on the left. Atlantic Ocean on the right.

Overlooking Dennery Village. One of my favorite spots.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The A-Team

"I pity the fool that doesn't read this blog!" -Mr. T

Alleyne, our supervisor on the ground, whom Judy and I have spoken about several times, is in a word: wonderful. The man is undoubtedly one of the greatest bosses I have ever had. He is kind, brilliant, inventive, and supportive. (He is also quite a calming influence on me when I get upset about, oh, I don't know... possible impending hurricanes. It helps that he has worked with/ lives with his wife, who is an actress... so he can smell drama a hundred yards off.)

Anyway, the other day, we got to see Valerie (yea!!) when she came to stay with us on her way to Dominica. We took her to work with us and had a lovely time. We also took her to several meetings we had scheduled. These meetings are helpful to my project in gathering what resources are available on the island in the area of educating youth and children about the environment, and discussing what exactly the children of St. Lucia learn about in primary and secondary schools. It is a constant thought of mine: "wow, this is a really helpful meeting to my project, hope it is helpful to Judy..." But then Judy assures me that yes, the meeting helped her see things/ assess situations/ ask questions that help her along.

I give all this background because Alleyne made a lovely comment to Valerie last week that has stuck with me. He said that anything we do, be it a meeting, a skype call, a discussion about why there isn't a recyling plant on the island (don't get me started) ... that anything we do - he considers that we do it as a team.

Well, that got me thinking.
First, I thought: a team with Alleyne and Judy! And I have been on it this WHOLE TIME! What?! I am so lucky!!
Then: wow, we would be a really good trivial pursuit team - Alleyne and Judy are SMART.
Oh, and finally: I totally agree.

We do operate as a team. The Clinton School gave me a great opportunity last year to work on my project in Newport with a wonderful team of William and Patrick. But this team is different...

Since Alleyne is our leader, we are... The A-Team? Get it?? (cue theme music:

Judy has a totally different project than I do. And she is adept at cruising all corners of the interwebs to find what she needs. She knows her evaluation and her monitoring. She can design a website, or thrill you with stories of E-E and cane toads. On our team, she is: [1.21] Jiga-Watts

Then there is me... I love some theatre, I enjoy being able to do service. I am working on a piece of this massive undertaking - the youth and children's strategy in our regional Caribbean radio community action campaign. My favorite color is yellow. In this team I am: Sarah Poppins

**Note: - Judy came up with my name - apparently I fly in and take care/ teach the children (Oh, Julie Andrews, I am honored)

Then there is Alleyne. He's the boss man down here in the field. He gets stuff done. He knows everyone. If we need anything, he is there. He is the main man, the head honcho, the Face of our operation. Most importantly, if we need anything, he makes it happen - he is magical. Alleyne is: Houdini. or Mr. President. (I couldn't decide).
See, Dr. Singhal wanted to shake his hand!!

We make a great team, the three of us. As I near the end of my time here on St. Lucia, I am thankful for Alleyne and Judy. How grateful I am for a supervisor and colleague who view my work as valuable and I view their work as innovative and vital! We have created a bit of a family here, and the trust we have amongst our group anchored my time here.

Alleyne helped navigate tricky waters and showed us the ropes. Judy is kind, funny, balanced, and supportive. I am trying to keep us moving forward, and always checking the weather report (someone has to!). I couldn't have asked for a better team; I know that after I leave, in 10 short days, this project will continue to grow and improve and adapt to the needs of the people in the region.

The Caribbean is lucky to have Alleyne on the ground. I am lucky he invited me to be on his team.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Quote of the Summer

First off, I love that Cornel West tweets. Full Stop. Love that a great philosopher and academic of our time tweets nuggets of wisdom. It's like when I wake up to discover His Holiness the Dalai Lama has tweeted. I think Prince Siddhartha would be pleased.

But I digress, my first thought was: 1) wow, Cornel West tweets about Chekhov 2) Hmmmm, I wonder what West and Chekov would say about KAP (Knowledge, Attitude, and Practices) - I have my doubts about KAP methodology 3) this describes my experience this summer and at the Clinton School in general pretty perfectly.

Chekhov, as much as his plays are not exactly my favorite (must EVERYONE in your thousand-person cast be named the same, or virtually the same, thing?? really, Chekhov?), makes a point.
Knowledge is nothing without practice. I am pretty sure that is the attitude we are all discovering this summer, during our public service projects. I, for one, am nearing the end of my project and I only wish I could see where all this knowledge gathering is going to lead my supervisor and PCI - Media Impact. It is difficult to sit in information-gathering meetings, which is helpful and necessary work (see previous post for "the necessary"), but I want to put it into practice! That is what makes these short service projects so difficult. Sometimes, many times, we design or plan without the implementation, but most of us want to see the results of our work.

Which brings me to a major lesson of the summer: do what you can, serve while you can, but know that you can only do so much. Take your knowledge of Year One in the Clinton School and put it into practice, the best you know how. Then take the local knowledge and let it revise, sharpen, and improve your knowledge. In the end, I think of the IPSP (the International Public Service Project) as KAP-PAK - I want to tell Anton all about my Clinton School service work and then say - yes, put the knowledge into practice, then go into the field, talk to the people who live there, and put the practices from the people here back into your knowledge base. It's a cyclical thing, this public service life.

All that theatre I have seen and to think, Chekhov had the answer the whole time.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Service is Love - Love (Tennis pun? anyone?? Bueller?)

(Flat Judietta and Flat Sarah ready to serve!)

It was like the perfect Dean Hemphill lecture/ story about serving versus steering in public service.

Judy has already introduced you to our wonderful supervisor, Alleyne, and how amazing he is. I was on a skype call with him this evening (you know, getting the work done, no matter the hour - public service isn't 9-5, right??). And talked to Alleyne about my project.
We discussed the project, my deliverable, as we do from time to time to stay on the mark and he said, "I just want to make sure that you get what you need taken care of. What you need for your purposes." Presumably, he means my project for the Clinton School - my deliverable and my reports for Joe.

A year ago, I might have responded that I needed "xyz" to get an "A" on my paper. Or I needed to hand in a certain product.

But after a year at the Clinton School, I was completely authentic and comfortable when I said, "Well, what I need is to serve you and this project. I want to help you move forward and do whatever I can to take some of the stuff off your already-full plate." Alleyne is an incredible person, and he works hard. I know he is like many people in the public service/ non profit/ NGO world: they know how to get it done, and they can do it. Head down... all systems go.

But that is why we are here! Super Sarah and Bionic Judy to the rescue! (We are superheroes down here, really. Seriously. Super.)

There is so much to do in this project and we are only here for 10 short weeks. But the purpose of us coming down? What do I need to get "taken care of" before I go home? I need to serve, not steer my project. I need to serve PCI-Media Impact's needs and do the work Alleyne doesn't have time to do.

My first thought was "tell him about serving versus steering!" then I remembered we were not in class, we were in the field.

This is what it is about, talking to a boss who works very hard, who tries to make time for everything, including his lovely family. The Clinton School has taught me to just jump in and say, point blank, let's talk about what you need to make this project happen. That is what I will do.

Important questions as I board the plane home: did I make Alleyne's load a little lighter? Did he, in the end, say thank you, we will make this project a success? Did we share a little about how to protect and conserve the Caribbean with our partners?

Good. I have served rightly.

When I clarified our plan for the week, I said something like, "Those meetings are important for us to have, yes? That information is good to gather?" He said, "Not just important, necessary."

"OK." I said. "The necessary stuff, that's what I need to get done. For my purposes."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

AR Presby Kids Shout-Out

So I think my balance post may have to be in segments, and this one is all about connections.
(Oh, and Enjoy High School Presbytery event Sarah.)

Remember when facebook was new and there was a great divide about it - some said, oh, there's this chat feature! It's great! and some of my friends hated it and refused to use it because it is just too much or they get bombarded (read: popular) when they are just trying to facebook, gosh darnit!

Note: This is not an advertisement for facebook, it's a testament to social networking as we are spread all over the country and all over the world. We meet up for Arkansas games and weddings; people are having babies, and we text each other, anxiously awaiting the new addition to our little Arkansas Presbytery clan.

Balance means connection to some of my favorite people in the world: my friends from my high school Arkansas Presbytery days. Over the 15 years I have known these people, we have moved on to different career paths, but social networking has brought us back into instant communication with twitter, facebook, blogs, and emails. These friends are my family and they continue to help me grow as a person and a public servant.

Some examples on how I stay connected, wherever I am: Ashley used to be an adult advisor in the Presbytery, now she is my friend and mentor, we catch up on the fb chat. I can often find Rachel (a resident with a busy schedule), Meredith (while she is managing new-baby land), Stuart, while he is educating young minds in NC, Jeremy while he is sermonizing, Melia between counseling sessions or Casey while he is working at a camp in France. And Heather? I know she is facebooking & co-ordinating youth events. Yes, my friends are quite incredible, but that's Arkansas for you - producing those who serve others.

In my life my family (be it blood-related or adopted), are the ones who most help me to be comfortable in a space of openness and vision.

The other night, I was sitting at the coffeeshop, doing some work for my client, and I got into a conversation with Casey. He and I met almost 15 years and it never ceases to amaze me that no matter where life has taken us, he and I continue to be in contact over email and various chat-mechanisms.

The reason I explain all this? Well, Casey and I spent about 3 hours dreaming about life after I graduate from the Clinton School. He asked me questions about my vision (class 5, it was like noble goal session #2) and kept posing new situations, suggestions, options for the my future career. The future non-profit theatre I would like to run for youth? Well, the depth and breadth of this vision continued to grow as we spoke.

After we left the coffeeshop, I recapped with Judy about this wonderful conversation, and Judy noted that spending time visioning and imagining in a completely creative space was much like this video that Dr. Singhal sent us:

The international public service project (ipsp) has taught me that while in another country, serving the people of this nation and other caribbean nations, I still need to be connected to those who mean the most to me. I also learned that to be truly balanced whilst serving abroad, I need to keep dreaming and visioning about my future career as a public servant in the arts (hopefully!). The Clinton School has taught me that I am equipped to take on this challenge and that I will continue to grow and learn while I do my final project next year, the Capstone.

This summer, Balance means not only connecting to those from your past and enjoying the present experiences, but it also means remembering to dream and vision and expand beyond this experience into serving people in the future.

Monday, May 31, 2010

This American Life [in St. Lucia]

You might recall that my international project involves working with PCI – Media Impact on a radio program that will be centered around climate change in the Eastern Caribbean, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. Radio is central to our project and thus, something Judy and I discuss on a regular basis.

In an upcoming blog (think of this as the trailer), there will be some reflections on balancing one’s life while on the International Public Service Project (IPSP). But as I was thinking about it, I want to highlight one of those piece of my life here that makes me smile: listening to saved podcasts of “This American Life” from NPR. I have some of these podcasts saved for when I actually have time to listen to them. Some are two years old! Well, friends, that time is now. I dedicate this post to TAL: thanks for the memories.

My blog today is brought to you in three acts: Act 1 – “Sleepless in St. Lucia,” Act 2 – “Drama, drama, drama, ” and Act 3 – “Pass the S’mores.”

Act 1 – Sleepless in St. Lucia

My time here in St. Lucia has been toasty. We are pretty far South, we are not far from Brazil down here, and yes, the sun is a powerful, bright entity. The night time isn’t much cooler. Recently, Judy blogged about ways to stay cool in the hot St. Lucian home of ours. Each night can feel restless because of the heat; so, before I nod off to dreamland, I listen to a podcast from This American Life (TAL). Partly because Ira Glass’ voice IS the last thing I want to hear before I go to sleep, I am not going to lie. Partly because it’s like having a bedtime story read to me … BY IRA GLASS.

It’s just me, Ira, and his stories, read by TAL producers or some of my favorite authors (Sedaris, Vowell, Rankoff, Savage, just to name a few). It’s like their stories are just for me, for anything that has happened that day, I have Ira and the stories to look forward to. It’s like I open a new podcast, press play, and surprise! I am lulled into peaceful slumber by storytellers.

Act 2 – Drama, Drama, Drama

I am a theatre kid, one might even claim that I am dramatic, but I am certainly not a drama queen. What I do love is listening to other people’s drama; that is why people choose to confide in me, I think, I am open and ready for the drama. I will vault the information, I promise you, but I will sit all day and listen. Since I like to keep little drama in my personal life, I welcome the drama on the radio. It makes me wish I were going to be here when the PCI – Media Impact radio drama goes on the air!

Act 3 – Pass the S’mores

You need to know, dear readers, that I am also a camp kid. Campfires are my favorite place to be in the summer because you get to share a meal (ask me for recipes!) and dessert (s’mores!). I love camp people; they know how to play games and be silly, they know how to have fun, they don’t get worked up when you get pegged in the eye by a water balloon (that happened to a “friend” of mine).

They are ingenius: a particular former camp bossman of mine made a 100 foot slide out of black roofing tarp, some dishwashing liquid and two hoses (I held a hose… then I slid). But what do I really love about camp?? Telling stories. Scary, meaningful, Bible, personal, funny – the campfire brings out the storyteller in all of us! Listening to TAL each night makes me feel like I have a s’more in one hand, my water bottle in the other, and I am sitting at the campfire, listening to how Geoffrey Canada transformed Harlem, or how Dan Savage never wanted to own a poodle (ever), or how Sarah Vowell was in a musical group, all recorder players, in Montana. David Sedaris is always welcome at my figurative, metaphysical campfire. The best part? I don’t even have to show up at a campfire, I can take them with me (thanks Apple technology!).

In case you haven’t gathered, Storytelling is central to my work and my life here in St. Lucia, even in my “off” time. The stories each night prepare me for another day – they keep me grounded, keep me focused, keep me moving forward.

Thank you, Ira.

And friends in the internet ether, thanks for reading. As my roommate and classmate Judy Watts would say, “Radio is the soundtrack of our lives.”

Sunday, May 30, 2010

No business like Show

Once upon a time … (I believe it was a few weeks ago) when I was spending more time processing than blogging, Judy and I went to the mountains of St. Lucia, to a village called Dennery. The village is home to our supervisor, Alleyne, and is gorgeous. The trip up to Dennery… well, let’s just say that I feared for my life a bit. Judy wrote a bit about the trip in her blog, so I won’t go in to details. But let’s just say the trip was… eventful and a little scary. I did look down at one point and thought, perhaps, if I plummet over the edge here into this rainforest down below, at least I died doing public service. Which seems like a decent way to go.

Why were we traveling up the windy road, potentially an ill-fated idea in a bus, we crested a hill and the Caribbean Sea was a beautiful blue-green below us, crashing against the rocks. Now, granted, all I could think at the time is. .. “Wow, we are mighty close to those rocks and the side of the cliff. How gorgeous… wait, what was that noise… did the bus lurch forward? Are we swaying… why is Hanson playing while we ride so close to the edge…” You get the idea.

Finally, we made it to the Primary School and thus began one of my favorite days… ever. Not just one of my favorite days in St. Lucia, but indeed one of my favorite days of all time. We spent the day with a primary (read: elementary) school teacher of THEATRE ARTS. Yes, I was in a kid’s theatre class all day. Sheer heaven!

Judy and I probably took about 100 photos each, so I can’t share them all with you now (ugh, reason #3,813 why I need Flickr!), but some of my favorites from the day will be featured in this post throughout.

This day was epic and lovely and made me wish that Ms. Valerie had been MY teacher in primary school; heck! I wish we had had theatre class in primary school at all! I could go on and on, but here are some life lessons I was reminded of in St. Lucian theatre class:

Shoes are overrated. I like shoes just as much as the next red-blooded American woman, but truthfully, I really love activities I can do barefoot (I AM from Arkansas, the Natural State - Our people belong outdoors.) This theatre class banished shoes to the corner of the room. Very cool.

Be silly … in community.
Everyone needs to stop trying to be cool all the time and embrace their inner silliness. I find that Judy Watts and our cohort in fun, Ms. Becca Swearingen, live this out very nicely. In theatre class, we walked BIG and LOUD and then soft and with small steps. We rolled around the floor and got all dusty and dirty. We explored what it meant to be free and silly… together.

Be a Storyteller. The students drew fairytale characters then talked about their characterizations. It was a great opportunity for students to tell stories with their characters and

be creative as they created back stories.

Listen. If you were not adequately dressed when you came to theatre class (i.e. not school uniform clothes), then you had to stand for 5 minutes in the “invisibility box” with your hands in the air. Not good. Best to listen the first time and spend more time playing with your friends than being punished.

This day I also learned quite a bit about St. Lucian folktales that actually changed the direction of my project. I also learned that the teacher here is using The Lorax for the literary foundation in her environmental club. The Lorax, Erin O’Leary! Did you hear that?! I am using that in my project as well.

Following the local wisdom… just something I picked up in Social Change class. Here are some of my favorite subjects from the day:

Friday, May 28, 2010

Water, Glorious Water

I know it has been a while since I posted. The thing is, I have about 4-5 posts in my head, but each time I want to share something, I end up spending my time processing about everything that is happening around me, so please excuse me for the lag in posts.

I wanted to talk about an important thing here on the island: Water.

I am on an island. Water surrounds us, it’s everywhere. But two weeks ago, when Judy and I had the opportunity to take some time out and take a little day sailing trip down the coast for some relaxation and volcano-gazing, I noted to the person booking our trip that it was raining.

“Ugh,” I groaned, “It’s raining again.” Mistaking me for a tourist, the booking agent said, “Yes, well, we love when it rains here. We had an awful drought this year. We don’t complain about the rain.” Looking sheepish, I muttered, “Oh yeah, heard about that … sorry, yes … of course. Rain is a good thing!” The “booking agent just grinned at me and said, “I understand, you are on vacation.”

Ok, then I felt horrible. I mean, I’m not on vacation, I’m not a tourist. I am in a beautiful tourist destination, trying to do some public service.

So I have been diligent in conserving water here. I shut the faucet down quickly; I take uber quick showers. I am working on it. Because she was right, water is vital here. When it rains, the people rejoice.

In February 2010, a water emergency was declared in St. Lucia due to the water crisis. Water restrictions and possible fines were imposed upon the population. According to my supervisor, the crisis didn’t end until right before we arrived, in late April. Two months of severe water restrictions because of rain shortage.

As I learn more about climate change, I recognize the need for our Entertainment – Education program here. Our program will educate and promote positive change and environmental respect throughout the region. I now gladly walk in the rain here because I know it represents a positive future to the people.

Besides, my job is to help preserve this beauty. It’s a great place to be: Surrounded and blessed by water.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

We were on a boat. (part 1)

For Josh. Challenge accepted.

Friday, May 14, 2010

And now for something completely different...

Ok, so Judy wrote about cricket.

And she made many many great observations. But I am one who likes to screenplay my events – so listen in on our cricket conversation:

Nice ticket agent: No more “stands” tickets left, just the “grounds.”
Judy: And it’s cheaper, but just hotter? We’ll take it.

Sarah: It’s like Derby! Or sitting out on the grass outside the Razorbacks’ baseball stadium.
Judy: So… what is the placard all about?
Sarah: The most they can score is 6. Then the other side says “4” cause when the ball gets to… some … point… it’s 4 points?
Judy: Right. So…
Sarah: India is in the Orange. I think. And Sri Lanka in the yellow. Their uniforms look so comfy.
Judy: Like pajamas!
Sarah: Ok… Now… something has happened that made the India fans excited.
Judy: Right.
Sarah: And they are running back and forth which is how they are scoring runs. And… oh… they must have hit it – cause they just got
4 points. I get that there are 20 overs, but not sure why the overs are taking so long. Hmmmm…
Judy: Yeah. Why is each over so long?

Sarah: No sure. This is fun! Glad we are here, just wish I knew what was going on…

It went on like that for about 4 hours. We w
ent to our ICC World Cup cricket match India vs. Sri Lanka. We were cheering for India, cause, ya know, of our allegiance to Dr. Singhal and so many other fun Indian friends of ours. I love getting to know new sports and seeing how they work. I was introduced to some serious footie in 2002 when I lived in England. I watched the FA Cup from a Pub with Chelsea fans. I mean, really, who does that?

So learning cricket in a country that loves their West Indies team? Fun. This is not my first time trying to learn cricket. When Gareth was my roommate, he would try to teach me about cricket… but I was still pretty unclear. Then Dr. Singhal, bless his heart, trie
d to tell me how nuanced the game is. Still pretty clueless. But I think I have it a good grasp now.

For those that want the quick guide
from the SL perspective: So there are test matches – they can go on for DAYS – but then there is twenty20 cricket. This is the quicker, 3.5 hour version. This type of cricket means each team has 20 overs are bowled (pitched) and each team has to score as many points as they can in those 20 overs. There are 6 balls to an over. So the first team has 20 overs to try to score as many points as they can; they want to get the ball over the boundary (6 points) or up to the boundary (4 pts). In the meantime, they don’t know WHERE the ball goes immediately after they bat, so the batter and the other guy who is in the same gear as the batter (not sure his name) on the same team run back and forth from like a batting position to the pitcher’s mound location - it’s like watching a repetitive 10 yard sprint…. Back and forth. Each time they complete a sprint it is one run. I think. Now what I love about the sprinting bit (this is from what I could see, mind you) is that they appeared to be able to use their bats to extend their reach - so it was like a repetitive 9.5 yard sprint. I love when you can use the items in a sport to extend your reach and score points. Like in tennis or in… um… cricket.

So there is your guide and a play by play of what it was like to be sitting near Judy and I at the match. Here are some lovely photos of the people we shared an afternoon with. (There was a band)

My favorite part? That people refer to it as “the cricket” I love adding definite articles to things.
Until the next time.

Monday, May 10, 2010


You know that feeling when you find yourself in a moment that feels like it should be filmed and fun movie-soundtrack music plays in your head? That happens to everyone, right?
Well, last week we had a bit of a celebration with the My Island – My Community folks. It was the official launch of the initiative and we heard from some pretty wonderful speakers including our own Dr. Singhal. We saw some dances from a troupe I will write more about later. But for now, this photo.

I, of course, immediately started hanging out with the children. I think this little girl was about 5 or 6 and she said her dad played in the band. I started to show her how to use my D40, it is one heck of a great camera, and she started to snap photos. She took it out of my hands and started to spin and take photos. I actually let go of the camera… ok, ok, I held on to the strap, but she was holding it all by herself! It takes quite a bit for me to let go like that.

But I did let go. And She just started spinning and clicking. I am not trying to give a plug for the D40 (it’s so easy, a 6 year old can use it!) but I did love that she could work it with such ease.

Here is one of her photos:

She had a yellow balloon sword. I am not sure that I will ever see her again, but I love the concept of giving kids the tools and they will create art. All I did was put the camera in her hands. The rest of the night, she would find me and wrap her arms around my legs in a giant hug with a huge smile on her face.

It’s that Born into Brothels concept – just give a kid a camera. See what happens. Maybe they will be like 11 year old Lillian in Newport, Ark. who sold two paintings at the Art Show this year. Or maybe they are a budding Annie or Ansel like this St. Lucian. She has vision.

Dear World:
Give every kid a paintbrush, crayon, clay, a camera… when they are little. See what happens.

Monday, May 3, 2010

STOMP!! ... I mean... STOP!!

Judy and I have begun to master the public transit system here on the Lucia. To be fair... we have really only mastered about 5 miles of it, but we find that to be an accomplishment.

The buses here are minibuses... they look like
<-- THIS.

Personally, I love the bus system. They show up all the time, they each have different drivers, so it's a distinct adventure every time you get on. Like today, it wasn't a long ride, but our driver stopped for every passenger that wanted to cross the road. Then we had people get off and on all the way until we got to our stop. Still, we got to the workshop on time. One time, the ride was so... er... um... efficient, that when we stopped I thought I might keep going over the bench in front of me. Which brings me to the purpose of this post: stopping. Now in England, when you want the bus to stop, you press a button. It was polite, highly individualized, and a very quiet atmosphere on the bus. In Chicago, you pull a cord to indicate to the driver that you would like to stop. Sometimes you had to be quick about it. Here in St. Lucia, it's a different system. As you are on a minibus, each bus ride is like a mini-road trip with strangers... and Judy. So to stop, you yell: "BUSSTOP!" One word. Said. Loudly. Not "Bus, Stop!" Not an instruction to the bus. Not "Bus. Stop." Not a declarative statement. You yell "BUSSTOP!!" Like it is the first time you have ever seen a bus stop. Like that bus stop is the last stop before the edge of the earth. Remember that time I told you about where the bus was moving at a pretty quick clip? (of course you do, it was 5 seconds ago), Well... our stop approached so quickly that I yelled, "Stop PLEASE!" And that seemed to work. We stopped. It was a bit sudden. But we stopped. Maybe there will be a video of us riding the bus in the near future... if you are lucky. Busstop: It's not just a location, it's a way of life.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Somewhere Over the Rainbow... is Judy

Meet my friend, Clinton School classmate, and overall awesome partner-in-public service, Judy Watts. First - a plug: if you want to read about some more adventures on the Lucia, read Judy's blog @

Ok, now that I have promoted the uber wonderful JWatts blog (she is a GOOD, the blogosphere should give her some kind of bloggy award), here is some more about Judy:

Favorite Number: 12. To quote Judy, "It's a dozen. A perfect dozen. And I like to bake."
Myers-Briggs type: ENFP... (I am one as well, just a different flavor of ENFP.)
Favorite Song: "If I had a Boat" by Lyle Lovett
Favorite Color: Pink. Yes, it is true. The girl loves her some pink. This beachy picture I have altered to honor Judy and her love of the pink.

She likes to bake, she loves pink - is Judy an uber Texan girly-girl in disguise...? Maybe, just maybe.

I have learned that Ms. Watts is truly undefinable, that she loves to do yoga, explore different countries, and that she is an adventure in a Judy-sized package.

What I appreciate about the Clinton School is that it brings together all kinds of people with similar cores: though Jude and I are different people, we still love people, to learn about different cultures, and are devoting our lives to serving and working towards the common good. I am lucky to have a friend here like Judy. She is balanced, caring, and overall, just fun. Where could you find Judy on any given day? At a coffeeshop, with her bff, a cup of coffee, sitting, enjoying the day, streaming some public radio and maybe reading or cruising the interwebs.

Oh... and a hidden talen she may deny? Dancing - she's a good dancer. I have proof:

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Facebook Birthday Phenomena (manna manna)

The interesting thing about having your birthday in this 21st century context is the way people tend to send you many many birthday messages (and write blogs about you). PAGES of birthday messages. The next day, not so much. Thus, May 1st is one giant letdown usually.

But THIS year, nothing is a letdown, cause I am in the Lucia. And I am spending my time with amazing friend and Clinton School dynamo, Judy Watts! Thank you for all the birthday messages, I am reading each one and smiling, but tomorrow, the day after, I am determined to continue smiling because May 1st is just another day I get to spend time doing public service in paradise.

Sidebar - everytime Judy and I discuss "phenomena" we end up singing this:

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Judy does a mean Warrior at our local beach.

Don't Let it Rain on My Parade

When it rains here, it really rains. We have heard much about the drought that just ended. This was our first rainstorm which brought much needed rain to the flora and the fauna of the island.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I'm Melting, Meeeeeellllllttttinnnggggg!

Flying in on Sunday, all I could say is the isle of St. Lucia is gorgeous, green and surrounded by blue-green water that goes on forever. After landing, I quickly was rushed to the hotel, where I met one of my hosts, Sean Southey, and he asked if I wanted to start working and I was ready!

But within a few hours of meeting fun board members, and staff, I looked as if I were melting away. Truthfully, I was. I think it is going to take some time for me to get adjusted to the temperature. I mean, I am just not used to this kind of heat. It’s like humid New Orleans and humid Arkansas summers all wrapped up into one. I am just waiting for my body to adjust. Hopefully I revert back to NOLA mode… fast. Someone remarked that I looked as if I were melting.

Which leads me to wonder… what will I do if I don’t adjust. How do I face this challenge proactively?

A few options:

• Maybe I will need to stand in a baby pool at all times. Waiting to just melt into a big Sarah puddle.
• Possibly I will need to carry a full set of towels with me at all times.
• Perhaps I need to invest in clothing that wicks all the moisture from me at all times. I will be in sportswear, but I will be dry.
• Or… maybe I should just exist in the ocean. All those that reside in the ocean are already wet… so I would fit in there.

Where am I not melty? The workshop we are having with 11 country partners to work on our radio serial drama, focused on climate change. Sitting in the workshop, listening to the enthusiasm from our partners has been a gift, and our host, PCI – Media Impact, treats us so well. More to come on partners in this effort, Entertainment – Education, and island life.

Everything is better with Coffee

Many Many Many more blog and vlog postings to come, but in the meantime, look at how delicious each morning looks.